Justice Department

Man charged with rioting on January 6 withdraws from plea deal after defendant’s accomplice acquitted

WASHINGTON – A man charged in the January 6 attacks on the US Capitol support from a plea agreement was scheduled with the government on Thursday, a day after a federal judge acquit another defendant.

Shawn Witzemann, who faces four misdemeanors, was scheduled to plead guilty next week, but he changed his mind after US District Judge Trevor McFadden, an appointee of President Donald Trump, found former federal contractor Matthew Martin not guilty in a bench test.

McFadden said that prosecutors failed to prove Martin knowingly entered a restricted building and it is possible that he believes police officers let him into the building.

Shawn Witzemann.
Shawn Witzemann.FBI

Guy L. Womack, Witzemann’s attorney, said that the Martin verdict was “a camel-back maxim” and led to Witzemann’s decision to back out of the planned plea agreement and seize the opportunity. his association in court.

“He didn’t want to plead guilty in the first place, but he was afraid to trust the justice system in DC,” Womack said, given the court’s proximity to the Capitol and the impact of the January 6, 2021 attack. , went to Washington residents. But “seeing that the judge did the right thing” in the Martin case influenced his thinking, Womack said.

Witzemann was arrested in New Mexico last April. His case was not before McFadden. Instead, he will come before Judge Thomas F. Hogan, President Ronald Reagan’s appointee, who has been vocal about the gravity of the January 6 attacks.

Hogan called the riot “an uprising” and was “probably the worst thing that has happened to our democratic way of life in history except for the War of 1812.” He also said that the mob was trying to “topple the government” and there was no legitimate claim that what happened at the Capitol was protected by the First Amendment and that he expressed frustration. with those who try to downplay the events of that day.

More than 775 people have been charged in connection with the attack on the Capitol, and more than 225 have pleaded guilty. As one overwhelmed The Justice Department’s attempt to resolve hundreds of cases on January 6 were charged, and with hundreds more pending, Martin’s acquittal could put many of the January 6 defendants to the test. luck in court.

Some of the defendants have tried to move their trials away from the nation’s capital, arguing that the jury was drawn from a population that overwhelmingly voted for President Joe Biden and was closely influenced by the election. January 6 attack could not give them a fair trial.

Womack said Witzemann, who participates in a podcast called “Armenian Council on Truth in Journalism” and has streamed other events, reported January 6 while he was in the Capitol.

“He is active as a journalist,” Womack said.

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